Monday, May 23, 2011

A Hot Topic...

The "Family Life" sermon series I have been in for 4 weeks has garnered a lot of feedback.

Three weeks ago we looked at marriage and discussed the fact that husbands and wives are to be in a relationship of mutual submissiveness (Eph. 5:21-31). What I heard the most comments about was a statement I made concerning the wife's role. I said that the wife's place is not to approach the husband with two swatches of paint and say, "Which color should we paint the guest bathroom?" but rather to ask, "Should we paint the guest bathroom?" I closed the sermon addressing the husband's role of self sacrificing love for his bride. My two favorite comments were, "Well, you ruined my golf game this afternoon." and "I loved the first half of your sermon."

The following week we dealt with divorce looking at Matthew 19:1-9. I have never felt so uncomfortable preparing or preaching a sermon. However, it seemed to hit a spot that many needed to wrestle with. The hope of redemption and healing through the gospel was the lasting taste on the tongue it seemed.

Yesterday was the sermon on sexuality from Romans 1. This was a biggie. Through this text I dealt with a biblical view of sex. I received feedback from folks who appreciated how I addressed current denominational issues, the scars that come from sexual sin and the need for repentance and healing, premarital sex, and finally how Christian married couples ought to be having the best sex on the planet- and that there is no excuse for them not to be. My wife told me that a couple of women mentioned to her that their husbands brought up the "homework assignment" Pastor Scott talked about.

Many have asked if these sermons are on line. They are. However, the sex sermon will go up on 5/24. You can find them on our website. (By the way, our new site launches June 1- I'm so excited about it!!!)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Confessions of Orthodoxy

Being a pastor in a denomination that continues to drift further from my own theological convictions is no easy thing. On Tuesday a big shift within our denominational polity removed language that defined a sexual ethic for church leaders that was consistent with historic biblical orthodoxy and replaced it with an ambiguous statement that results in a conscience driven theology born from cultural conventions. People have reduced this shift from orthodoxy toward accommodation to being about "gay ordination." That's regrettable. But understandable.

Many within the denomination that are closer to my own theological convictions say that "we" should leave the PC(USA). Many within the denomination that are closer to my theological convictions say that "we" should stay in the PC(USA). I have no clue what to do. I just want to do what's right. But determining the right way in a sea of grey is no easy thing. Especially when no one can admit that it's grey.

To leave might mean being a part of something more pure- at least thats the way some speak of other denominational landscapes. By "pure" you mean trading our set of issues for theirs right? Some of the "leave" crowd make the pragmatic argument that they just don't want to fight about this anymore. OK. But we're still Reformed. We might as well have a pugilistic theological gene born from the loins of John Calvin. Wherever we go we fight. So give me a break on that one. Some of the "leave" crowd want to start something new altogether. A lot of them are jerks. If I start something new it won't be with you. See. I'm a jerk too. It'll never work. One good friend wants me to join the Eastern Orthodox church. No. For 7 good reasons and a couple of bad ones. A few others think that I should go independent and start my own thing by myself and just rock it solo. That actually fits my personality which, as you know, would be a problem.

The "stay" crowd that identifies with my theological convictions concerns me a bit too. Many of the stay people are within a handful of years from retirement and I know are thinking, at least in part, with their pension. I just wish some of those folks would bone up and admit it. I'm not even saying that one's pension is a bad reason for staying. I just wish you could admit it. It would help me listen to you. Some "stayers" talk about reform or restructure from within. So changing the structure within would help you sleep better at night? "OK. Let's not get divorced but you live on your side of the house and I'll live on mine. Jerk." Yeah, let me know how that works out for you. Some argue that we should stay because it doesn't really matter that much. Part of me admires their cool exterior. Part of me thinks they have gotten lazy, turned yella, and need to get out of the game because their fire went out.

Right now the song lyric "should I stay or should I go nowwwww? If I stay there will be troublllle... If I go there will be doublllle..." is going through my mind.

One of the difficult things is that I know faithful, godly people that represent each view above. None of them speaks for me. To many, their particular solution seems so simple. That alone let's me know they haven't walked a mile in my shoes.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. I know what that looks like today. I just don't know what that looks like tomorrow.

Kyrie Eleison


Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of my preaching professors used to say "Find your voice." I understood why one would say that to a preaching student. But I never agreed with it.

The "voice" of a particular preacher ought to be subject to the ears of those to whom they have been sent. Preaching is not about the voice of the preacher but rather the hearts of the listeners to whom God has sent his Word. If I am preaching to a group of prisoners my "voice" will sound different than it does to a group of business people. In the same way that the Apostle Paul became all things to all people that he might save some, so too must the preacher.
Any given Sunday the preacher is called to be a teacher, a prophet, an evangelist, an exhorter, or an empathizer. Which one depends on what God is up to with a particular people. And to be the right one at the right time the preacher must first listen to the text and the Spirit before he imagines what it will sound like when he opens his lips. One's voice must become subject to the context of their calling.
We are not artists that choose our subject matter or presentation of it based on our whim or passion. If we do not die to ourselves before we step into the pulpit then we may have found "our voice" but have done so at the expense of the Word. Lord, save those to whom you have sent me if it is my voice they hear.